Audiobooks and the almost impossible art of patience

audio image

I need more patience, and I need it now!

Okay, let me back up a bit and provide a little context.

Audiobooks are a big part of my life. Who’d a thunk it?

Until about three years ago or so, I didn’t think audiobooks were for me. I tried one once, couldn’t keep my mind from wandering, and decided I just wasn’t cut out for this audio thing.

But then, I ended up giving audiobooks another try when I felt myself itching for an Outlander re-read, but had so many other books to read that I couldn’t balance my competing reading needs. Audio to the rescue! Listening to Outlander in the car while commuting back and forth to work made my drives so enjoyable, and pretty soon I added audiobooks to my weekend walks as well.

Still, I was convinced that I could only succeed with audio for re-reading books; that if I tried to listen to a book I hadn’t read already, my focus would keep slipping and I’d miss too much of the narrative to enjoy it.

Cue the time machine, and fast-forward to the present!

I’m never without an audiobook now, and while I still find audio a great medium for revisiting books that I read long ago and want to experience all over again, I’ve found that when I want to, I can do just fine with new books too.

Perhaps it’s just an acquired skill that takes practice — like playing tennis or learning to knit? (Sorry, those are totally random examples).

headphones-152341_1280I eased into my new book/audiobook adventures slowly, and discovered that audio is actually perfect for me when it comes to spending time with genres and types of books that I don’t normally make room for. I enjoy non-fiction occasionally, but I’ll always choose a novel over a non-fiction book when I’m looking for a good read — but via audio, I’ve loved a few great non-fiction books in the last couple of years, especially Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat.

I’ve also discovered that while I never seem to have the patience to sit and read a book of short stories, it works just fine for me as an audiobook, probably since I can usually only listen in shorter chunks anyway.

So, here’s where my current problem enters in:

The problem with audiobooks is that you can’t binge-read!

If I fall in love with a book, or get so caught up in the action or the intrigue that I just can’t put it down, then I’ll stay up til all hours of the morning reading in bed, or keep a book open while I eat my breakfast, or read every time I take a little break from my daily routines. I can make a binge happen if I want!

But my audiobook time is really limited, and the amount I can get through in any given listen is directly related to the length of my drive or my walk. Because one thing I simply CAN’T do is listen to an audiobook while sitting still, and if I try to listen while doing odds and ends around my house, my attention is too scattered to truly enjoy it.

Right now, I’m about halfway through with an audiobook that I’m absolutely loving, and today I got up to this incredibly exciting part… and then I came to the end of my walk, which I stretched out as long as I possibly could, and now I can’t continue with the story until tomorrow! And I’m so, so frustrated.

I actually picked up a hard copy of the book from the library in order to check on a couple of names, and so I suppose I could just read ahead… but somehow, it feels like I’d be cheating on my audiobook! Plus, I’ve really gotten into the narrator’s accent (even though it bugged me at first), and when I look at the printed words on the page, it seems flat somehow.

I’ve definitely had a couple of books in the past that I started via audio, and then realized that I wanted to go faster than the narration, so I switched over to hard copies (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Cinder by Marissa Meyer are two that come to mind).

With my current back, I’m trying to take deep breaths and let go of my urgent need to find out what happens next. So what if it takes a few more days than I’d like? So what if, once I go back to work on Monday, I’ll have even less time to listen each day? Will I enjoy the book less if I can’t finish it all at once? Does a book need to be consumed as quickly as possible in order to satisfy?

Patience. I need patience. Maybe I need a patience mentor…


Nope, I will not give into the dark side. I will not read ahead. I’ll stick it out, and enjoy every half-hour or hour of listening time that I have.

And when all else fails, I can always listen at 1.25x speed.

14 thoughts on “Audiobooks and the almost impossible art of patience

  1. I’m a new convert as well! Bought a car with a 6 CD player, which I love to load, then hit the road. Trips to town, about 40 miles one way, used to be so boring, poor radio reception most of the time, but no more! The only drawback is that my husband hates ANY noise when we’re traveling, but he usually prefers to stay home these days anyway, so it’s all good! 🙂

    • I”m glad you’re enjoying! I tried listening w/my husband on a long road trip, but he had less interest than I did, so we dropped it. Now, they’re just for me when I’m alone in the car, and it makes driving so much more fun!

    • I’ve always had a hard time with people reading to me, which is why it took me so long to finally give audiobooks a try. I really do think it’s something that takes some time — I’m much better able to focus now than when I first tried them.

  2. Our audiobook histories are very similar…I never thought I’d like them either and my favorites genres are those I don’t usually read in print. I also started with re-reads and now sometimes read new books too (especially non fiction!) The only reason I don’t feel quite the same about audio reading speed is that I can listen while doing things around my house (especially, laundry, cooking, and dishes) so I tend to fly through audiobooks while my print book crawls along more slowly. I tell ya though, my house is a lot cleaner when I’m in the middle of a great listen!

  3. Listening to audiobooks is nearly impossible for me as I always think I can read faster, and I can’t multitask, so I end up listening to the book as I stare at the wall. The only thing that works for me is listening to performances of Shakespeare plays as I read along.

    • That sounds like a great approach for Shakespeare! It’s the wanting to read faster that makes me a little crazy sometimes, but it just depends on the book.

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